Artist Interviews

Q&A: Aloe Blacc

By | Published on Thursday 5 May 2011

Aloe Blacc

Former business strategy consultant turned dapper soul revivalist, California native Aloe Blacc had a part-time stint in a rap duo before releasing his debut album ‘Shine Through’ through Stones Throw Records in 2006. Second LP ‘Good Things’ was picked up by Epic last year, following the breakout success of Aloe’s recession era classic ‘I Need A Dollar’, which had its proper release a few days ago. With a handful of UK live dates just gone, Aloe will return to our fair isle in the summer for appearances at the Glastonbury, Somerset House Series and Big Chill festivals.

As he kicks back in The Netherlands ahead of a show in Zwolle tonight, Aloe was kind enough to offer a Same Six-style insight into the process he underwent while making his new album.

Q1 How did you start out making music?
I started in high school, making hip-hop with my good friend DJ Exile. We started a hip hop group called Emanon, which is “no name” backwards, and we recorded everything on our own with a four-track cassette recorder, a push-button sampler, and old records that we sampled from. I wrote the lyrics, he made the beats: we became local heroes, and eventually spread our music around the world.

Q2 What inspired your latest album?
Lyrically, the financial crisis and the recession were the inspiration. Stylistically, late 60s/early 70s political and social soul music: artists such as Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield.

Q3 What process do you go through in creating a track?
A lot of songs start as just the chorus and the melody; the idea will come to me when I’m driving or cooking, or some other everyday activity. Over a series of weeks I’ll continue to write lyrics and add parts of the song in my mind, and build the orchestration. Eventually I’ll get to the studio with my musicians, and have a demo already created for them to record their parts. Or, like James Brown, I’ll hum each musician their part, and we’ll go from there.

Q4 Which artists influence your work?
My current work is influenced by Al Green, Bill Withers and Marvin Gaye; or James Brown and Otis Reading. In general, I’m influenced by people like Cat Stevens, Jon Mitchell and a whole host of classic singer and songwriters.

Q5 What would you say to someone experiencing your music for the first time?
I’d rather just shut up and let them hear it. But I’d hope that after they listen to the album that they go and listen to my inspirations as well.

Q6 What are your ambitions for your latest album and the future?
I’d like my album, ‘Good Things’, to have a bigger life through the help of things like labels and radio: I feel like it’s a solid album, and worthy of people’s attention. In the future, I’d like to try to keep expanding the concept of soul music, introducing other sounds and styles, but using soul as a foundation.